Washington - The international community has rallied to Georgia's side in the wake of Russia's recent attack, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while all Russia has managed to show the world is that its military can overrun its smaller neighbors and that its leaders may not honor their diplomatic commitments.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington — The international community has rallied to Georgia’s side in the wake of Russia’s recent attack, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while all Russia has managed to show the world is that its military can overrun its smaller neighbors and that its leaders may not honor their diplomatic commitments.
“It is very clear that Russia is not achieving its objectives. Georgian democracy is standing. It is thriving. It is receiving extraordinary international support,” Rice told reporters September 3, as she announced a new $1 billion economic recovery package for the emerging South Caucasus democracy. ( See “United States Pledges $1 Billion to Rebuild Georgia.” )
Rice’s announcement follows a host of other aid commitments to Georgia in recent weeks, including a planned donors’ conference hosted by the 27-nation European Union, as well as a $750 million loan from the 185 member states of the International Monetary Fund.
The 56-nation Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ( OSCE ) also is working to deploy 100 military monitoring officers to Georgia’s Russian-backed separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, while the 26-nation NATO alliance has created a new NATO-Georgia Commission to support reconstruction and stabilization efforts.
In addition, Russia’s partners in both the G8 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation have called on Moscow to commit itself to a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing crisis — an objective Russia has pushed further out of reach by its decisions to extend diplomatic recognition to the two breakaway regions and its continued troop presence in self-defined “security zones” deep in Georgian territory, Rice said.
“Russia has not yet carried out the obligations that [Russian] President [Dmitry] Medvedev has repeatedly given,” Rice said. “It’s high time that Russia met its obligations to the cease-fire, to withdraw its forces.”
In stark contrast to the dozens of nations that have come to aid Georgia, Rice said, few countries have joined longtime Russian allies Belarus and Cuba in siding with Moscow — a powerful silence that should send a strong message to the Kremlin about how the Georgia crisis has damaged its international image, Rice said.
“Russia cannot have it both ways. It cannot both behave in ways that would have been associated with another time and place, decades ago, and expect to enjoy the benefits of the international community into which Russia had begun integrating,” Rice said. “I think President Bush put it well when he said that it does call into question Russia's commitment to the principles that underlie many of the diplomatic, economic and security institutions into which Russia had been integrating.”
A worker unloads pallets of humanitarian aid supplies from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas in Batumi, Georgia, August 27.GEORGIA DID NOT LAUNCH A WAR, SAYS U.S. DIPLOMAT
Rice was joined by U.S. Special Envoy Matt Bryza, who took aim at Russian claims that Georgian forces started last month’s conflict with their move into South Ossetia’s capital.
“It did not begin on August 7 with the attack on Tskhinvali, by Georgia, which we do believe was a mistake,” Bryza said. “It began much sooner, thanks to provocations by South Ossetian militias under the command, by the way, of Russian officers.”
In an August 19 press briefing, Bryza, a leading figure in international efforts to resolve several post-Soviet “frozen conflicts” in the region, reviewed Russia’s expanded ties with Georgia’s breakaway regions. Bryza cited Russia’s boosting its troop presence in the area, violations of Georgian airspace by Russian warplanes and Russian involvement in the leadership of separatist militias that launched a series of attacks on Georgian police and soldiers in the lead-up to the latest conflict. ( See “Russian Provocations Contributed to Georgia Crisis.” )
“Georgia did not launch a war. Georgia was drawn into one,” Bryza said.
Bryza also rejected Russia’s call for an arms embargo on Georgia, calling Georgia a “peace-loving sovereign state” with a right to develop its own military for defense and, in accordance with its future NATO membership aspirations, to contribute to international peacekeeping, as it has in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the latest U.S. aid package is entirely dedicated to meeting immediate humanitarian and economic stability needs, Bryza indicated that future assistance rebuilding the Georgia military may also be in the offing.
“The Georgian government needs to take some decisions on its own as to what its future force structure would look like, based upon what its own goals are,” he said.
Transcripts of remarks by Rice and Bryza are available from America.gov.
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